The New International Encyclopædia/Whitney, William Dwight
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Whitney, William Dwight
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WHITNEY, William Dwight (1827-94). An American Sanskrit scholar and philologist, born at Northampton, Mass. He graduated at Williams College in 1845. For the next three or four years he was clerk in the Northampton Bank, but began to show a marked interest in natural science and in languages. In 1849, as assistant sub-agent, he accompanied the United States Geological Survey to Lake Superior, and on this expedition he began the study of Sanskrit in his leisure hours. On his return in the autumn of the same year he studied Sanskrit at Yale under Salisbury. In 1850 he went to Germany and spent three winters at Berlin under Weber, the summers being devoted to work under Roth at Tübingen. In 1853 he returned to America, and in 1854 was appointed to a chair of Sanskrit and comparative philology at Yale College, where he remained as professor until his death. The American Oriental Society owes much to him for his prolonged services as corresponding secretary, editor of the society's journal, and president. He was also first president of the American Philological Association. Among his publications are: Language and the Study of Language (1867; 4th ed. 1884); German Grammar (6th ed. 1888); Oriental and Linguistic Studies (1872-74); The Life and Growth of Language (1875); Essentials of English Grammar (1877); Sanskrit Grammar (3d ed. 1896); Roots, Verb-forms, and Primary Derivatives of the Sanskrit Language (1885); Practical French Grammar (1886); translations with commentaries of the Sûrya Siddhânta, the Atharva Veda Prâtiçâkhya, and the Tâttirîya Prâtiçâkhya (in vols. vi., viii., and ix., of the Journal of the American Oriental Society); and the posthumous Translation of the Atharva Veda, with Commentary (1904). With Roth he edited the Atharva Veda (1856), besides which he made noteworthy contributions to the Sanskrit Dictionary of Böhtlingk and Roth (Saint Petersburg, 1852-76), and an Index Verborum to the Published Text of the Atharva Veda (1881). He was editor-in-chief of the Century Dictionary. A complete bibliography of his writings is given in the nineteenth volume of the Journal of the American Oriental Society (New Haven, 1897), a memorial in his honor.